By Arthur Tam
Hakka cuisine is often seen as a form of simple, rustic Chinese cooking. It’s comfort food, with dishes usually involving braised or stewed pork. But at Taikoo Place’s private members’ club The Refinery, acclaimed chef Jacky Chan wants to shift the perception of his culinary heritage with an exclusive Hakka menu for the month of June.
Chan grew up in a Hakka village in the Guangdong city of Dongguan. It was there that he discovered the flavours that nourished his tight-knit community. “It's about family,” says Chan. “The Hakka people treat every neighbour like a relative, so when my mom was busy at work and couldn’t cook dinner, I would go over to try other aunts’ cooking. It’s this warmth and nostalgia that I wanted to translate at The Refinery. I wanted to breathe new life into these dishes.”
When Chinese restaurants have promotions, the focus is usually on lobster, abalone, fish maw and other expensive delicacies. But Chan, who has Michelin-starred restaurants on his CV, thinks his customers are going to be pleasantly surprised with the eight traditional Hakka dishes that he’s elevated with a new way of preparation and presentation. “There is a misconception that Hakka food is a bit outdated. But, with my dishes, I'm still preserving the authenticity and tradition while adding an extra touch of richness and refinement that'll fit into what we are doing at The Refinery.”
Among these dishes is pan-fried egg with preserved turnip and basil, and dried shrimp ($138). The egg is soft and smooth, and the flavour is enhanced by the clever addition of salted egg yolk. There’s also braised duck ($276/whole, $138/half), which is stuffed and marinated with preserved mustard greens to create a melt-in-your-mouth texture. The acidity of the vegetables cuts right through the duck fat for a surprisingly light dish.
You might have had salt-baked chicken, but Chan’s version ($480/whole, $240/half) is like no other: a tender, juicy triumph that’s deceptively simple but packing huge flavour. Our favourite, however, is the deep-fried pork belly with fermented red bean curd sauce ($158). The pork was exceptionally tender and crispy without being at all oily or greasy. “The Hakka people are experts at preparing pork because we are landlocked and traditionally did not have access to seafood,” says Chan.
Other delicious dishes on the special menu are: braised pork belly with taro ($138); stir-fried pork belly, Chinese celery, squid, dried shrimps ($158); Hakka tofu stuffed with minced pork in yellow bean sauce ($138); and braised bitter melon stuffed with minced carp and pork in black bean sauce ($138).
The Refinery’s special Hakka menu lasts through the month of June. Become a member of The Refinery here to try Chan’s new menu.You’ll get a taste of the Hakka tradition, as prepared by a chef with a deep passion for his culture. “We wanted to do something special,” says Chan, “so I thought, why not cook some dishes that represents my heritage.”
To know more about fine dining at The Refinery, check out our story here.